When most folks think of the typical diet of a goat, they probably imagine grass, hay, leaves, twigs, bark, and things like that. And they would be right!
Those are all stereotypical items that make up a goat’s diet, but goats can also eat various kinds of produce, including many of the same ones that we eat.
That said, not everything that is healthy for us is healthy for our goats. What about fruit? Can goats eat fruit and is it safe for them?
Yes, many kinds of fruit are safe for goats to eat. However, they should only get fruit on a very limited basis because it is too sugary for regular consumption. Fruit can supply necessary vitamins and minerals for goats.
Most kinds of fruit are healthy, wholesome treats for goats, or if you want to look at them as occasional nutritional supplements that’s just fine.
Fruit can supply energy, vitamins and minerals that goats need, and you’ll probably find that your goats love getting a sweet piece of fruit every now and then.
But, like many good things, it is easy to overdo it! I’ll tell you everything you need to know about incorporating fruit into the diet of your goats below.
What Benefits Does Fruit Have for Goats?
Fruit can do a lot of good for goats, so long as they don’t get too much of it.
And although every different kind of fruit has a hugely different nutritional profile, composed of various vitamins, minerals and macronutrients, it is safe to say that all of them are a wholesome, good source of energy for goats.
Getting a little bit of fruit can easily help goats cope with stress or boredom in their usual diet, and is also a wonderful way to give them a little bit of extra pep if they are struggling with hot or cold weather.
Goats can also definitely benefit in numerous ways from the often dense amounts of vitamins and minerals that different kinds of fruit contain, and properly chosen fruit is a great way to supplement their diet if it is otherwise lacking in certain key nutrients.
And then, there is a simple fact that goats tend to really like fruit. This is because, as any veteran goat owner will tell you, goats are somewhat notorious for having a sweet tooth.
They really love their sweets! And compared to sugar or syrup which can easily cause indigestion, the natural fructose in a fruit is a lot easier for them to digest, although you still must be very mindful of the quantity your goats get.
What Kinds of Fruit Can Goats Eat Safely?
Goats can eat many different kinds of fruit, including apples and pears, berries like strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, blueberries and more, grapes, raisins, different kinds of melon and even tropical fruits like bananas, pineapples, mangoes and kiwis.
Each and every one of these fruits have a unique flavor that will appeal to your goats, and each of them is also quite sweet.
Regardless of which one your goats like best, they can always benefit from a boost of energy and a good amount of nutrients.
But as I said above, do be careful to avoid overfeeding your goats with fruit because that can cause digestive upset! I’ll tell you more about that in just a bit.
It’s a Good Idea to Remove Seeds and Pits from Your Goats’ Fruit
One thing you should always do when serving fruit to your goats is remove seeds and pits before giving them the flesh.
This isn’t necessarily because your goats cannot chew or swallow them either; goats are well equipped to deal with very tough plant matter, but in many fruits, and specifically apples and stone fruit, seeds contain compounds which can turn into dangerous toxins like cyanide when digested.
And many types of fruit these compounds are only minimally threatening so long as your goats aren’t getting a lot of them, but it’s just not worth the risk owing to the general susceptibility of goats to various poisons.
Removing the seeds, cores, pits and any tough skins from your fruit will ensure that goats get maximum enjoyment from it and don’t miss out on any nutrition.
Is Fruit Safe for Goats Raw?
Yes. As a rule of thumb any fruit that is safe for goats to eat is safe for them to eat raw. Raw fruit is easy for goats to digest and also has a major advantage in that it will contain the best possible amount of nutrients that goats need.
Can You Cook Fruit to Give it to Goats?
Yes, you can, but there’s no great need to do this. Cooked fruit might be even more appetizing to your goats, especially if the cooking process concentrates the sugars in the fruit, but cooked fruit will always lose vitamins and minerals in the bargain.
This means that it is generally less beneficial for your goats.
Now, if you’ve got some picky eaters that just seem to prefer cooked fruit, there’s no reason why you can’t cook it and give it to them but you really don’t need to go to the trouble.
How Frequently Can Goats Have Fruit?
Goats should have fruit on a very limited basis, typically no more than one or two small servings per week as a treat or supplement.
This is because excess fruit consumption can lead to serious digestive tract issues in goats, and also because goats just don’t need that much sugar in their diet generally.
If you choose a safe fruit and keep the portion sizes small your goats will be able to enjoy fruit as a small but ongoing part of their diet for a long time.
Can Fruit Cause Problems for Goats?
Yes, fruit in general, any kind of food, can cause problems for your goats if you give them too much at once, or if you feed them too much fruit too often.
This is because fruits have too much sugar to be good for goats as a staple in their diet.
Goats that get too much sugar in their diet can easily gain weight, but what’s more likely is that you’ll disrupt the delicate balance of their rumen, which is dependent on beneficial bacteria to help them process food.
When that happens, one of two things will occur: goats will either suffer from rumen acidosis, a condition where the pH of the rumen will drop and become too acidic, or else certain other types of bacteria will multiply excessively, disrupting the entire digestive tract.
And both of these cases, negative outcomes are highly likely.
Goats so effective will usually lose their appetite, act listless, suffer from diarrhea or vomiting, have difficulty digesting what food they do eat and they can potentially even die from a fatal inflammation of the intestines or stomach.
This is why it is critical that you moderate how much fruit your goats get; if you give in to their begging in an effort to satisfy their sweet tooth, you could be sentencing them to a really bad time.
Goats Should Only Be Served Plain Fruit
Any fruit that you give your goats should be wholesome, plain and free of any added ingredients or dangerous chemicals that could hurt them.
Don’t give your goats any desserts made with fruit, or fruits that have added sugar, sauces and things like that.
Similarly, avoid giving your goats any fruit that has been treated with pesticides as these can cause long-term health complications for goats.
Always wash your fruit, and if possible buy organic for your goats.
How Should You Serve Fruit to Your Herd?
Serving any kind of fruit to your goats is mostly a matter of removing the seeds and core as detailed above and then cutting it up into small, bite-sized chunks that are easy for goats to chew and swallow.
Fruits that have tough skins, rinds or peels can be peeled or, in some cases, you can see if your goats like it and will eat it.
Is Fruit Safe for Baby Goats?
Fruit is generally safe for baby goats so long as they are old enough to be eating solid foods at all times. That means they are done nursing…
Baby goats also love fruit, but you’ll want to give them even smaller amounts than you would adults and give it to them even less often.
This is because it baby goats must get proper nutrition at this important stage of their life, and sugary, carb-dense fruit doesn’t really fit with their nutritional needs.
Make Sure to Clean Up Leftover Fruit
Another thing you’ll have to take care of if you’re going to give fruit to your goats is cleaning up after them.
While most of the time your goats will eat every last bit of the fruit that you give them (sweet tooth, remember?). There will usually be some scraps, skins and leftovers.
These need to go, because they are highly aromatic and attractive to pests like mice, rats and all sorts of insects.
You don’t want these critters hanging around you or your goats, and even if they don’t show up if your goats come back later and eat a rotten piece of fruit it might make them seriously ill.
Tim is a farm boy with vast experience on homesteads, and with survival and prepping. He lives a self-reliant lifestyle along with his aging mother in a quiet and very conservative little town in Ohio. He teaches folks about security, prepping and self-sufficiency not just through his witty writing, but also in person.
Find out more about Tim and the rest of the crew here.